By Devan Coggan
January 23, 2019 at 04:28 PM EST
Credit: Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock
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On Feb. 24, winners will be crowned at the 91st Academy Awards. But before the red carpet is rolled out and envelopes are opened, Entertainment Weekly has inside intel on the 2019 nominees. Keep checking back at this week for spotlights on contenders in all the major categories.

Christian Bale
Starring In: Vice
Age: 45
Oscar past: 3 nominations, 1 win
Role call: Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney

Christian Bale made headlines by gaining 40 pounds and bleaching his eyebrows to transform into Vice’s Dick Cheney. But the Oscar Best Actor nominee also used a subtler trick to bring life to his performance: his breathing. Through wheezing and groaning, Bale plays the former VP as a man rotting from the inside, undermined by his failing heart and the moral compromises he makes to hold on to his power. (It also brings to mind Cheney’s most famous nickname: Darth Vader.)

Bale didn’t initially think he was the right choice to play the now-78-year-old Cheney, but after reading Adam McKay’s script and immersing himself in research, he found he couldn’t stop thinking about the politician.

“And there’s always that great idea that the next project you do might be your last because you balls it up so badly that nobody will ever hire you again,” Bale says with a laugh. “So that’s always a seduction.”

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Vice (2018)

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  • Adam McKay